Wallenius Wilhelmsen and ICO trial new creative barge solution from Antwerp to Zeebrugge

Source: Port of Zeebrugge

On Friday 04 March, the Wallenius Wilhelmsen terminal in Zeebrugge welcomed a first trial of a RORO pontoon barge from Antwerp with Liebherr products onboard. By using a push barge and customized pontoon, breakbulk products could reach Zeebrugge more efficiently in the future. The Liebherr products from the factories in Colmar and Ehingen arrived via barge to the terminal of International Car Operators in the port of Antwerp. There it was safely put on roll trailers and rolled onto the Victrol pontoon. Subsequently, the products arrived at the inner port of Zeebrugge, where they will be exported internationally by RORO ships of Wallenius Wilhelmsen.   

The waterway to sustainability  

The increasing choice for inland shipping not only promotes the efficiency of domestic transport, but also makes an important contribution to the climate. By shifting logistics activities to inland waterways, the share of freight traffic on the roads is reduced. Such ecological modal alternatives can reduce emissions of harmful substances and CO2 (as well as general traffic congestion).   

Marc Adriansens, Managing Director ICO: “This test project offers an excellent example of what is possible when both ports work together. The joint customer Liebherr is very strongly committed to the modal shift, whereby we – as a terminal operator – adopt a flexible attitude as much as possible and try to actively collaborate on innovative solutions. Thanks to the technical expertise and transparent communication of all parties, we will make this new cargo flow a success. The interconnectivity between the two complementary ports is crucial for the progress of the fusion port!”

Werner Van Dessel, Sales Development Manager Wallenius Wilhelmsen: “This trial is the first step towards a symbolic inland ‘RORO water bridge’ of 70 km between the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge. By partnering with Liebherr, subcontractor International Car Operators in Antwerp, the barge operator Victrol and the Port Authority of Zeebrugge, we hope to find a permanent sustainable transport option to improve accessibility for customers to Zeebrugge and reduce the proportion of trucks on public roads.”

Inland navigation: no bridge too far  

Earlier this year, Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters gave her approval regarding the provisional financial support plan to promote inland navigation. With the Department of Mobility and Public Works, North Sea Port, Lantis, and Port of Antwerp, Port of Zeebrugge will invest 14.3 million euros to provide extra connections for inland navigation from and to our ports.

Tom Hautekiet, CEO Port of Zeebrugge: “The gradual switch to classical inland navigation is a logical decision given our sustainable ambitions. A single cargo of 680 freight tons replaces about 10 truckloads. Moreover, the receipt of the test cargo of breakbulk confirms the pioneering role of the port of Zeebrugge as a maritime logistics trading platform on a national and international scale. Furthermore, the port authority can only compliment the hard efforts and dedication of our colleagues at Wallenius Wilhelmsen and the colleagues at ICO in Antwerp.”   

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